Community

POPD asks the public to help track graffiti

The Port Orchard Police Department plans a full-scale assault on graffiti. - Courtesy photo
The Port Orchard Police Department plans a full-scale assault on graffiti.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

School is almost out for the summer, and to many that means the season of graffiti and other vandalism will soon begin.

“The incidents do seem to be more prevalent when the youngsters have more free time on their hands,” said Deputy Scott Wilson last summer when one of the local soccer clubs had been vandalized in what they said was an annual summer event.

This month, the Port Orchard Police Department announced it will be keeping a close eye on graffiti that pops up across town, and is asking for the public’s help in finding and documenting the vandalism.

“We’re asking community members, ‘If you see it, call us — we do care about it,’” said POPD Officer Andy Brandon, who joined the department in November and recently took over Sgt. Trey Holden’s duties as the School Resource Officer for the South Kitsap School District.

“Kids are doing the majority of graffiti,” Brandon said, explaining that while often the spray-painted markings are “harmless” annoyances, they can also be signs of gang activity.

“The schools are very interested in gangs, and ‘tagging’ is a way to track gangs.”

A former Bremerton Police officer, Brandon said when he worked for that department the officers began taking pictures of the graffiti they found and saved them for future reference.

“Some people draw the same thing over and over again or it will be the same colors, or same writing,” he said.

Having such a collection not only helps officers identify suspects, it also helps them track the location and activity of certain gangs. And while Port Orchard may not yet have the problems with gangs that larger cities, “the big city stuff is trickling down to the smaller cities,” he said.

But even if much of the graffiti in Port Orchard is done by bored juveniles, Brandon said the POPD is still interested in tracking and combating it.

“It costs the city money, and no one likes to drive around and look at it,” he said. “We’re trying to clean up the city.”

Brandon said abandoned buildings tend to be the most frequent targets of taggers, including the former K-Mart building near Saars Market on Olney Avenue.

“We just photographed the other day,” he said. “If you look closely, you can see touch-up paint on top of touch-up paint.”

In addition to documenting graffiti they see, Brandon said community members can also help reduce instances by keeping track of their kids and their supplies.

“Kids aren’t usually buying the spray paint, they’re taking it from their parents’ collection at the house,” he said.

If you do find graffiti, Brandon said you can send him photos via e-mail at abrandon@cityofportorchard.us, or call 911 to report the graffiti, and officers will respond and take photos.

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